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brad herron-valenzuela

Director, First Place Global Leadership Institute's Maricopa IDA Center for Education, Training & Employment

brad herron-valenzuela’s work with individuals with autism and other disabilities has taken him to public, private schools and nonprofit organizations in Arizona, Costa Rica, West Africa and India.  

herron-valenzuela joined First Place in March 2021, where his role as director of the Center for Education, Training and Employment allows him to leverage his previous experience with the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) as an instructor at the First Place Transition Academy. As director, he will continue forging collaborative relationships to provide inclusive and empowering opportunities for individuals with autism and their families.

Various positions with SARRC include a mix of direct and indirect service, program development and coordination, collaboration with families, stakeholders and related providers, and leading innovation to meet the often unmet or underserved needs of individuals with autism. This includes programs targeting employment, leisure and social skills for tweens, teens and adults with autism, preparation for independent living, college, employment, dating, sexuality and personal identity. herron-valenzuela has been a presenter at national conferences, including ABAI, CAL ABA and ABA India.

herron-valenzuela has a background in cross-categorical special education, applied behavior analysis, autism studies, and social and philosophical foundations of education. He has served as a graduate research assistant with the National Center for Culturally Responsive Education Systems, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education from Arizona State University.